Fuck it. I give up. Give in. What ever you want to call it. I can't possibly absorb, consume, hoard all the things that hit that fucking cord. That set my heart to sing. That instantaneously remind me what alive. Alive. Alive. Alive. Dear universe. Please. Please give me the recollection to remember, in that heaviest hour. This.
Having a firm, justifiable opinion about any one thing can be a hard space to occupy. Unless perhaps, you can call yourself an authority. Well then maybe you're entitled to your opinion. And yet. We spend lots and lots and lots of conversations with each other having all kinds of opinions about all kinds of things. Of which. (Maybe all of which, or at least most.) We are not that aforementioned "authority". I don't think people should eat meat. Well, not mammal meat at least. But food-stuff that comes from animals. That's okay. And all of our veggie-foods should be organic too. And locally-grown. And we should try to eat only the foods that are in season and nearby. I am just full. Full full full. Of opinions. Practically every sentence I utter. Has some opinion-based statement in it. And honestly. There's no way around that. Not really. Not if we're going to have any serious or unserious or any-kind of conversation at all. Any kind of dialog. Without opinions. What or how would we talk about?
And yet. What would it take to become an authority on any one topic? How robust would one's knowledge need to be, in order to claim that one "knows" about said topic? And how does one then measure one's own robustness, in order to feel confidence that they are in fact, an authority? And does that robustness fade with time? Or lack of study and concentrated consciousness? And how does one project that authority without mixing it into emotion? Or cultural context? Or personal experience? As Rebecca Solnit writes, "We know less when we erroneously think we know than when we recognize that we don't."(1)
One doesn't. It's not possible. Because there is no such thing as human objectivity. How one measures one's awareness of any topic is a direct reflection of their own subjective opinion. And depending on who's in the room. A conversation can go on like the syncopation of a symphony, or like the pulling of a pail from the well, or like thunder clapping with the electricity of shards of lightning.
What's true (aka "true") is that our measure of objective authority is as varied as the number of individual human consciousness-es that exist on the planet. Sure. We have data, and math, and statistics and "quant" things that can sometimes support our arguments. When in fact we have something to argue for. But. Much like the eternal question of true-morality. How do we decide what to think? And where and how to think it? And from what information and possibly data?
At one point in someone's history. The world was flat. Disease was the mark of the devil. Women and slaves did not have the proper intellect to make any decisions, and so deserved to be the property of men. And stripping periphery countries of their own indigenous resources while simultaneously forcing freely-traded imports upon their communities would be good for their economies. Of these. Which of them sounds most like an opinion?
We live in some fast-changing times. Some technologically-advancing, globally-cultural, informationally-present times. There are more ways to access more thoughts than ever before in human consciousness. With so much content available to us, how are we to wade through so much, and come out of it with any rational, thoughtful, authoritative, anything? Politics, governments, the environment, what we eat and where it comes from, what we believe in and what we don't, technology, education, sexual orientation, art, music, health, and every single thought I've ever thought without ever reading, hearing, or seeing it anywhere else but from where it came.
More people, have more access, to more information than ever before. I believe that this is a beautiful thing. And I believe it has the potential to level us collectively, more than it ever has, at least as far as civilization is concerned. In this scenario. Though there are significantly higher risks for conflicting ideas, conflicting data, and conflicting information. At least those ideas are happening and flowing everywhere. More cooks in the kitchen means there's less chance for the cook to poison the party. For too long, any information at all, was bound up in the hands of the willfully powerful at the tipity top. They were able to control the message. And all too often that message was purposely tailored to meet their very personal, very subjective, very individual needs. In 1611, the completed revision of the King James Bible was released to the public. This was already nearly two-hundred years after Gutenburg improved the moveable-type printing press, which continued to change the landscape of books entering the home. So after centuries of slowly climbing literacy, and some lucky folks owning at least one book, King James knew what he could do by editing and controlling the message of that one wildly held, most important tome, the one preached at mass on Sundays and the same one on the bedside table.
It's often hard to navigate conversations that leave us feeling convinced of our convictions, but with little amo to return back to our potentially disagreeing dialog-mate. It's in these conversations that I often feel the most powerless. Which feeds my hunger and curiosity to pull out of our information-rich environment, more information. So I can be. More informed. But I also often wonder, how little that little bit of information I'm able to pull out, really is. And if that little bit, that I'll likely misrepresent in some succeeding conversation, is actually the very thing that makes our information-rich-consciousness-es so dangerous. How often I read one book, on any one subject and feel somehow, informed so much, that I can speak intelligently and draw on that resource for fuel in my writing or my dialog. Much like I have done above in citing King James, the flat earth, and free-trade. In reality. I know very little about the history and landscape of any of these topics. And yet, here I am, sending this all-too-familiar academically-minded message, that I have done my research.
Ultimately. There is no answer. It's all good. And it's all bad too. Objectivity is not possible. And quite honestly. Being an authority on any one topic, isn't really possible either. At least not in the sense that we can confirm or deny the absolute truth or fact of anything we claim. Science will be the first to tell us that literally everything found or alleged in it's discipline, is and should be questioned just as soon as it's discovered. Maybe we could all stand for a little more of this in our lives. Not too much—trust me, I know the too-much side, and questioning literally everything, can and will make anyone bat-shit crazy, your partners included. But a good healthy mix of questions and openness couldn't hurt anyone. Especially not in the space of a conversation. We're a species obsessed with causes and answers. Our very language is based on words able to be defined. Control makes us feel secure. And security makes us feel safe. And safety means we don't have to tuck our tails and run from everything that makes a weird noise or looks at us funny. Balance is important. Empathy is important. Love is very important. If we could all come to each other with some part openness, some part compassion, some part thought and idea, and some part a willingness to be changed our selves, maybe we could learn better ways to cooperate and really use what little information might actually be helpful to us.
1. Rebecca Solnit. Wolf's Darkness: Embracing the Inexplicable. From the collection, Men Explain Things To Me. Haymarket Books. Chicago, Illinois. 2009. pg 88.
In order to fall in love at all
there must first be
aware to both
a critical mass of shared things, common things, things mutually understood
with just enough variance
for surprise and debate and the sparking of original thought
and as important it's pair, if not more
a mystifying, intoxicating attraction
and then perhaps, the possibility, but not certainty
To fall and fall and fall and fall
as if never to land again
weightless and timeless
you feel everything and nothing all at once
so keenly alive
and well down within your inner insides
To stay in love.
But to stay in love a perplexing and equally mystifying affair
a combination of such delicate harmonies
near slight breezes at times
feel to upset what limited and desperate balance
you so barely mustered together to steady.
To stay in love, she said, is so much harder.
Each autonomous self needing to stay whole
whole pieces of them selves
needing to know when to compromise
and when to compromise would mean dissent from that truest self
something neither should risk
but too it's that delicate balance
a need to cooperate, to communicate, to meet
to recognize that times, at times, bring with them
needing little more than to be endured
and other moments call to us
to remind us that that falling impression
crucial and beautiful though it was
was a mere fraction of our beloved's self
shards of light casted in slivers
catching our own inside lights
dancing barefoot and floating
convinced each of us, together.
But now, we are called often to these other moments
reminded of those selves who met in fractions
those selves who must now be patient
and pay to time, what honoring to know
to deeply know and truly know
their beloved's whole self.
Like one can know their own
to love at all
to stay in love
is to be there.
it's that middle.
the in between.
the. i don't know.
not wanting to move.
not wanting to stand still.
the. not wanting.
and makes me feel.
just keep going
whatever that going might be
it's the part about the going
not about what it is
how to describe it
or to judge it
just keep going
that's the point.
for Rob. thanks for the reminder. that ground.
and in a moment.
brought, sucked, pulled.
right back down to the earth.
you precious earth.
down to you earth.
my toes wiggling to feel those roots.
buried deep and grounded.
surrounded by all of your magic.
all of the that magic in the universe.
is down to earth.
but my toes.
my knotty roots.
numb so often below the surface.
my mind so far up.
high above my shoulders.
floating away like a helium balloon.
and then my heart too.
worried that that mind of mine.
will never remember.
how to find her body.
how to find her earth.
so too she's drawn away.
in search and rescue.
until at once.
in a moment.
brought, sucked, pulled.
right back down to you earth.
in one moment.
awakened in my self.
down to earth.
in all of your darkness and quiet.
where my heart is reminded.
and my mind is quieted.
and my body is still.
and my toes can reach out far in their rooty tendrils.
held fast and steady.
in the feeling.
that all of the magic.
the deepest living.
is right there at the tips of my toes.
Slowly stumbling through my days
I wonder just how much time I'll spend
Doing these things
that don't really fill me up
don't really satisfy me
don't really tempt my curiosity who so often begs to be tempted
All that time, doing these things that fail to set my heart to song
And yet all the while, it's these things to me that seem, also, necessary
Evils that lay in the existence of all that is the most human of conditions
What names we may call it by
job, work, security
No matter, my mind tells me necessary
And yet my heart
Caught endlessly between wanting all of my attention
to be free
Free to wander and drift and stray
where ever I want
No matter the time of day, or what day of the day of the week
And yet still
Caught between knowing that that precious time I crave
the time I carefully call free
Is likewise a state for my mind
a way of seeing and feeling and being
That might actually be some part
a crucial part
To that perception of freeness
And yet still
Doing these things
that don't really fill me up
Using the thing I know I'll never get back
That precious, delicate, quiet reminder
Life caught by the un-knowing-ness of time
Haphazardly aching to answer
Which way and by how much
do I spend it?
I'd like just
to enjoy it
to feel the warm sun on my back
and turn around
and walk in the wrong direction
pointing my nose towards the light
for no other reason
than to feel the joy in it
all of it
in that moment
for all the happiness it brought me
no matter where my feet ended up
or how i got there
I'd like just
to enjoy it
Rest your fingers on my skin
Please please please my beloved
Bring them up to the poking-bones at the top of my shoulder
And run them delicately down along the inside of my arm
To the soft underside bowl of my elbow
And over my arcing wrist to the belly of my palm
Again again again my beloved
Please please please my beloved
Make the tip of your finger into a brush
That paints concentric circles on my skin
Around and down my bare arms
Up and down to my hand that has formed a loose fist
While my mind has idled to a stop
My skin taking over over over
Again again again my beloved
Please please please my beloved
Rest your fingers on my skin
To the days that remind us. Of our frailty. How little it can take. To break apart the ground. To turn it from concrete to sand. Quick and fast.
When we feel lost. Numb. Invisible.
Please dear earth. On these days. Let me feel your arms around me. Sunken deep below the surface. Not trapped but reminded. That you are the safe womb for my deepest child-self. Who on some days needs not to run away, but to sink inside you. And feel those big feelings. To reach around them. And hold them. Curled up in myself. My deepest child. Tucked deep below your surface. Mother. Remind me. Frailty too. Deserves its place.
You pen yourself in
And you pray for that feeling
While you wait and you want and stand as still as you can
Hoping that your voluntary stasis will help you hear it
Will help you find it
Will help you will it again
Instead of begging begging begging
To fail so hard
That that heart that had beated so full and soaked and engorged inside you
Now nearly splits open
At its dry cracking edges
With mealy insides
Beaten up and bruised and soft in all the wrong places
But wildly alive
My dearest heart
You are not here for mirrors and repetition and duplication
Sink deeply into your self
Into your empowered voice
And your clearest truth
And your wide open arms
Your outsides may recoil and thicken and wrap walls around you
They may cringe
And forget your insides
Your insides who were made for this
Who were made to fail
But they need it
And they'll need it again
They need it to be black and blue and bloody
I am in awe of friends. Or people I don't know at all, who can say something, that to me, feels at once perceptive, insightful, connected, realized … to their own truths. The people who can step outside of themselves and see something, feel it, understand it, and have the clarity to speak it. To be able to be a witness to their own truth while they live it.
our nets to be caught with
our reservoirs to cry into
our blankets to hide beneath
our ground to stand upon
i have spent a life
pouring my self
my deepest of hearts
into you sister
at times (most times)
that you take me
all of me
into your body
into your limbs, your belly, the air in your lungs
where you keep all the parts of me
the dreams of me
the wants of me
the purpose of me
because you know
that time wears over me like a current
quietly opening holes on my skin
draining me out, all of these parts of me
until i am left
but there you stand
as if beside me always
filling me back up
with all of those parts of me
that whole of me
in your body
because of you
My dearest future-self,
I need to ask you to be careful. I need you to be willing to consider all of the reasons you are doing, what you are doing now. And to avoid wishing your present self was spending her time doing something different. Something else you think she should be doing. Instead, I want you to think about all of the things that are happening, that she is doing now. And how each of them is crucial to living that "one wild and precious life" (1). And be thankful. To remember that you need every single one of those things. To remember that they are all important. That they are all a part of you finding your truth and living your truth. All parts. All of the time(s).
Please let your present-self. Live in her present. To be present. To have presence. In time. Through time. With. Time.
Because future self. You don't even exist yet. You are a made up self. A very demanding and loud figment of my imagination. My consciousness. My ability to think beyond this moment. Up in my head. Away from all the real-things. The now-things. The awake-things.
Alan Watts once said, "...the growth of an acute sense of the past and the future gives us a correspondingly dim sense of the present. In other words we seem to reach a point where the advantages of being conscious are out weighted by its disadvantages, where extreme sensitivity makes us unadaptable."
Do you see future-self? How you must be careful with me? How much power you have over my existence in right now? And as much as I am happy you're here to keep me on my toes. To keep me moving instead of standing still. To remind me of all the beautifull things I want for my life. And all of the beautifull things I'm capable of. Still. You are not my truth. I don't know you yet. And so I can't make you happy. I can't fulfill you. Or please you. Or set expectations for who you are supposed to be. I can't have you dragging me along, behind this illusion of what it's going to be. Making up stories about a life that has not happened. A life that is not mine. That does not exist beyond thoughts. Thoughts that spend my time. That use up my precious now.
Adaptation happens over time. Not before it. But with it. Not in the future. But through it. Not then. Now.
I'd like to be here now. To experience. To live. To be comfortable and satisfied and willing to let things happen. Not to let things happen to me. But to be a part of the happening.
My dearest future-self. I love you. But please be quiet while we become your beautifull you.
1. Mary Oliver. The Summer Day.
At what point do you get to say, "I know it's not supposed to be easy" and convince the universe that you got the fucking message, loud and clear, and that it can relax, no need to beat it with a stick and a cane and a baseball bat with metal spikes on the end of it powered by a machine calculated to swing just as long as there was something around to swing at.
Fine. I get it. I GET IT.
And also. I know I don't deserve to say that. I know I'm entitled. And I haven't earned the right to feel that way. There has been nothing in my life besides everything I need. And love. And relentless opportunity. One after another after another after another. Luck bathed in luck dressed in luck swallowing luck whole like a giant snake finding the biggest dinosaur egg ever laid. I know I shouldn't, and yet there are so many moments. I do. And I feel so tired about it. And so desperate to figure it out, once and for all, and stop. Stop complaining. Stop searching. Stop feeling like I'll never really be the thing I think I should be because that shiny thing is hanging from a stick stuck out from my head just long enough to evade the furthest my fingertips will ever reach out to touch.
How do you manage to get to a place where you feel like you can't live up to your self? How does that happen? How do you do such beautifull things that even you are proud of, excited by, elated to have in your world, that even you are terrified it will never happen again, and those big-giant-dreams you've been talking about so long will never happen because not only could you not live up to that thing, you barely even started it. "It's not fair to yourself to stop," you say. "You deserve that big beautifull dream," your inner monologue repeats over at nauseam. "If you stop, you're the only person you have to look at in the mirror. This will be your fault. You have choices and free will and not one impediment to making these things your reality." "What are you waiting for?" And on and on and on. The I don't-want-to-be's. The what-if-I-don'ts. The where-did-it-goes?
I thought at least, if nothing else, I'd finally figured out what how to get there. How to get back. How to be that creative consciousness I feel anxiously pacing around inside near my lungs but not in them so much as making up their own organ entirely, just sitting there tapping at me before bed or when I wake up or at any moment during the day, shouting up to me, back up to my throat, wondering when the fuck we're going to get back to work already. I can just barely respond and I feel like the little kid who was asked everyday if I'd practiced and if I hadn't I would feel like I failed and I let myself down and that it was my fault. "I could be," I think. But "I won't". Because "I didn't".
But what the fuck is, "get there?" Self. What the fuck is that? Where is that? And why are you so impatient and hard and demanding that you would rather beat your self up in your now-moments wondering about that place instead of living in this one? There is no there, without here. I want to believe that. I want to feel that. I know it's true. But what I feel instead. Is conflicted. And confused. Generally these things. And frustrated. Perpetual frustration.
I'm tired of doing things I'm proud of. I'm tired of returning over and over again to this place that makes me feel like I'll never add up. That even if I did it once, I'll never do it again. Whatever the fuck "it" is.
I don't need perfect anymore. Thank you universe for getting that message through to me loud and clear. Clear like the wine glasses surely sitting in my sister's cabinets after she cleaned them so fiercely, one or two probably broke between the palms of her hands.
But goals. Goals are another thing entirely. And they are oiled with pride, greasy and slippery and not wanting at all to be catched. When I got into grad school. I think that became this road for me. That was kinda already paved. And I knew a lot of things about what school was like already. And I knew that at the end, I would get what they said I would get. All I had to do, was walk. Ultimately, it turned out not to be paved with stone or black tar and I'm not sure I was wearing much on my feet. But there was a path there, and the trees were parted, the water was only so deep, and the moon was always full enough to keep a dim light out no matter what time of day it was. It was safe. Because even though the in between parts were uncertain, I knew what the end would be. I knew that I made an agreement to get that thing they said I would get. As long as I put the work it. I would get that thing they said I would get. I knew it. I knew it. I knew it.
I don't know what this other stuff is, outside of that. I'm no good without that thing I know I can agree to. Without knowing if I'll get that thing that I don't know that I want yet. Even when I know what I want. I'm not sure of how to get there. And that path is for sure as fuck. Not. Paved.
I don't know if it's that I'm afraid of failure.
I don't know. And I think that's worse. Not the part about not-knowing-if-it's-failure. But the not-knowing in general. The expectation that it should be some way, even though I have little to zero understanding of what that should-way even is. It's easy for me to look back and connect the dots. To make sense of all the experiences and see them for all they were and how much I needed every single one. But I can't do that looking into the future. And that scares the fuck out of me.
What if this stagnant time is/was the beginning of never making work again? What if you forget everything you learned, and all of this becomes something you did instead of something you are? What if you're a fake? A lazy, complacent accepter?
I worry about wasted time. I worry about being what I say I am. Following through. Living up to the expectations I put myself inside like a cocoon. Like it's a good idea.
It's a strange thing to come around on this side of it. To feel like I knew what envy was before. And I could feel it. But now that I don't have the same experience of envy, I think I've learned a lot about what it is.
Before I put in the hard work (I'm still putting this in actually) but before I started to consciously put in this "hard" work I would often wish I could have the life of people I looked up to. Or maybe didn't look up to but felt cranky about because I believed they had something I deserved, but I thought they didn't deserve it for some reason. I would think to myself, "how did they get there?"; "what's their secret?"; "who do I need to meet to make it like they have?"; "I should make work like that. Their work inspires some random part of me, so I should do what they do, and I should like it, and then I will make it too."
Welcome to. There is no "making it". There is no "should be doing". There is no "someone else's life that I want".
When I started to put in that hard work. I didn't realize that on the other side of it, I would come out appreciating the beauty in other people's lives, so much more than I had ever realized before. I didn't realize that I was envious. Envious in the worst way. In the way the dictionary describes it. In the way that we wish we could be something that we are not.
I never want to be anyone else. But me. Ever. Not now. Not ever again. And that is one of the most beautiful gifts all of that hard work has given me. I have come around to deeply respect the life that I know-is-mine, so much better now. My life. My self. My thang. I want to repeat that. I respect. Me. I have come around to the other side. Of learning to appreciate. Honor. And respect. Me.
True. There of course are still moments I say to myself, "ohhhh deargadd, I want THAT". And then I think again. In the adjacent moment. That I can either have that. If I really wanted it. Or. That is not me at all. And so stop it. Ego. Quiet down. We know who you are now. And go be quiet and meditate and remember who we really are.
That hard work. Turned out a lot of beautifull amazing artifact. In words. And drawings. And journal entries. And conversations. And exponentially enjoyed discoveries of other-peoples-love-work like their words, their images, their lives. Yes, I do believe that all of the time I've spent enjoying other peoples lives is in fact part of my artifactual life. It is something I make too. Because when it all comes together, in that mash-up of our experience, our experience is the artifact. I spend some of my most precious time making objects out of that. Some of my favorite time in fact. But that's me. That's my life.
And ultimately, that was the hard work. Getting to know what I most deeply love. To do. To make. To experience. To live. And honoring that. Truly, honestly, wholly living that. It was not at all, in no-way, still-in-no-way, easy to find that, figure it out, discover it, keep doing it, know what that is. Every day. I still do that hard work. To get to know, "what makes my heart sing". A dear friend of mine has said these words to me a few times, and it always stuck with me. (Thanks MP). The singing. Is desperately the most crucial part of my existence. Why do any of this? All of this? Parts of this life thing? If you cannot feel your heart singing about as much as you possibly can?
I'll repeat. This is not easy. I struggle. With this. A lot. I hear the word "inspiration" frequently. I don't know how I feel about this word. But for what it means. I want to feel that every day. All the time. I want to feel so much of it that it's hard to part ways with my doing/making/whatevering to get my ass to sleep, and I want it to wake me up in the morning. I want my heart-to-be-singing because I am deliberate about it. Because I put in that hard work.
It's hard to quantify that hard work. My mother and I talk about this often. The finding part. The knowing what it is part. The be-quiet-part so you can hear the singing part. I know that for me. This meant commitment. It meant that if I was ever going to be "one of those people" who clearly found what they loved and got to do that, that I had to start doing things that I had never done. I will never claim this happened entirely of my own volition or solitude. I was swaddled by loved ones, brilliant loved ones who helped me find my own way, and helped me get out of my own way in particular. There was however, a very clear shift of my own intent that did occur before any help was accepted. Before any recognition that I needed anything. It took years and years of building anxiety, acquaintance with insomnia, and known void-ness (repeat "envy"), to get me to a place, of finally, begin to listen. To me. Listen to me. Listen to me. Listen. To. Me.
That continues to be the hard work. Because there are a ba-ga-gillion distractions around us all the time. Always. Distractions that lead to distractions. That lead to other distractions. That all. Distract me away from doing the one thing, that will get me to the one thing, that will make my one-heart-thing-sing. I don't think I can illustrate what that means. That listening part. Because it's different every day. What me wants everyday seems to be different. And what me does everyday, when me is listening, is usually different. Sometimes me needs quiet-meditating-time. Sometimes me needs drawing time or keyboard-writing-time or journaling-time or dialoging-time. I don't know. Until I listen.
But the result of that listening. And then honoring that listening by doing the doing. Over months and months and months of deliberate commitment. A lot of the time with the lights off. Having no idea how any of it would turn out. And in constant refusal to self-criticism and judgement and goal-setting. Has brought me to this new place, where I can viscerally feel the difference between the old-kind-of-envy and the new-kind-of-understanding-it. I respect what me wants now, because I know what me wants now, and I do what me wants now, instead of assuming I should have wanted what I saw other people doing.
I don't want your life anymore. I want mine. And I choose it. Deliberately. Every. Day.
We have a hard time living in the present. But we document the hell out of it. Photographs. Books. Film. Art. What are we so afraid of losing? What are we looking for? We're obsessed with keeping, hoarding, storing everything we think we—know. For what? It all ends up being a representation of what we experience in the present. Some way to take what's "here" and turn it into an object. Something we can look at, but never have again. Experience again? Live again?
Sometimes I think, the only thing we can know is how/what we feel, right now. Feeling is the experience of living, it's the the present. It's the where, the what, the how. Yet, our culture, has arrived at the notion that assumes truth is information. By literacy, by knowledge transfer, by image consumption, we take in as many bites as we possibly can from the surfaces our technology as if that feed is the only reason to live. We have become buried in our obsession with information accumulation. Wanting to know answers. To know truths. To know why. In the background, our knowing of being, feeling, breathing is pent up, locked away as far from our consciousness as we can keep it.
Shame, anger, and fear. Taught that feeling anything, expressing anything, venting anything is for those weak, unresilient, vain, ungrateful. People.
Instead, we live on the surface of everything. All stuff kept away in containers. Kept neatly in houses and clothes and words. It must have been hard to train the thoughtful person. The person who had time and openness of mind and freedom to dream up their own definition of life. The person who was not put in a box made up of gender rules, beauty rules, class rules, appropriate rules, polite rules, hours-per-work-week rules, clock rules, age rules, sex rules, sin rules, do not rules, should rules, success rules, good-better-best rules. Those people existed. There were hundreds of thousands of years human beings lived before the development of civilization. Before running water. Before agriculture. Before transit systems. Birthday candles and vacation. Medical insurance and home security systems. Pets.
When I read the phrase, "cultural conditioning," written by Philip Shepherd in his book, "New Self New World", I stopped. I wonder how much of my life has been shaped by the things I never think to question. Why should I? Why would I? Of course reading and writing is the most profound technology we have invented to date. Of course the internet and the cloud and massive information ingestion is what we should be doing. In fact, it's pretty typical for me to feel guilt when I realize how much I'm not consuming. All the stuff I'm missing every day. How ignorant I know I am and I'll probably stay. When I'm in a room with a person who can recite poetry at random. Or around political chatter. Or forget what a words means and I have to look it up for the ga-billionth time. I'm reminded. You're not doing enough, I think. You should. I think. You could. I think.
"Another type, called discrepancy verbs (or modal verbs), includes words like should, could, ought, must, and would. Discrepancy verbs are used when people suggest some kind of subtle discrepancy between how the world is and how it could, should, or ought to be." (1.)
Why are we constantly talking about what we should be doing? I started to catch myself saying this word recently. It fills up my entire day. Gopping mouthfuls of this and that word. I wonder why we even have a word for "should". Who may have made up that word? All this language didn't get in our heads from no where. And, also. Why is it that eskimos have over 100 words for snow?
1. James Pennebaker. The Secret Life of Pronouns. New York : Bloomsbury Press, 2011.
My aunt said that to me. One of those moments I felt like someone reached in and pulled out my thoughts. There is this overwhelming sense of urgency I can't seem to shake. Not in the way that I feel like any of this work could possibly be "finished" during my thesis development. I don't feel goals or results. Not the ways I have in my work before. Before the connection with process. The balance with the doing. The calm that the only thing that's worth any of this is the me in the now. What happens with/to my self as I'm working.
No. It's different. The urgency. It's a feeling to embed, to bury, to make this work so much a part of my me, my breathing, my way through, that I could never forget how much I need it. Without the net, the structure, the others, what if I let myself stop. Loose momentum. Energy. Desire. It sounds foolish even writing this. There are so many me's talking over each other in my head. One's wishing it was more steady. One's convinced it will always be. One's slipping under the covers, with a hood over head, desperate to sleep through fear. Ones wanting passivity. Ones tired. Restless. Sad. Manically energetic. Obsessed. Overwhelmed. So much. All the time.
How am I going to do this? Why am I doing this? What am I doing?
It's so easy to think about the later. The next. The when. Living now is a practice. Working with honesty and allowing my insides to govern what comes without edit is a practice. Not allowing myself to go to the later, the next, the when is a practice. My aunt has MS. She told me once that she doesn't let herself go to places in her mind, the future places that inevitably would consume her with fear and desperation. She practices mental now. I don't let myself go there, she says. I think of this often. Just do. Now is for doing. Doing.